Madame Lash has suffered an unkind cut. For the first time in four years the organisers of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras have rejected her application to enter a float in the March 2 parade.
Madame Lash, a female who impersonates drag queens, who brought leather chaps and jackets to the city's gays 25 years ago and has appeared in three succesive Mardi Gras, thinks she is being locked out because she is not gay. "There are things wrong with the gay movement if it has turned into a mafia," glowered the madame, now 50, from under her diamante-studded super eyelashes. She was planning a four-float entry comprising her black Lashmobile hearse, a fire truck, a gold single decker bus and a double decker with scenes of a nuclear bomb hitting Sydney - all draped with gay and Iesbian friends.
But Madame Lash, who is standing as an Independent for the Senate In the elections on Mardi Gras parade day, has received a letter from its director, Mr Brenton Kewley, barrlng her participation because she is not entering "a gay and lesbian community group float". "Politicians or people standing for office have only ever been able to enter the parade on the basis that their entry does nothing other than name their support for the gay and lesbian community. Your entry does not meet these criteria," Mr Kewley wrote.
Madame Lash - alias Gretal Pinniger, a Palm Beach artist - wrote back saying she had fought hard for the gay cause. Her relationships, she said, were based on "the spirit" and not "the kind of genitals my friend have got or what their preferences are." "If I am elected, I promise there will be rubber, leather, glitter, glamour and of course lashes in Canberra."
But the president of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Ms Bev Lange, said the decision stood. Madame Lash was not being excluded because she was hoterosexual but because the parade was a protest march by the gay and lesbian community. "She is not a gay man or a lesbian woman and she is pushlng a view which is not related to the gay or lesbian community," Ms Lange said.
Madame Lash says voting will be over when the parade starts, but Ms Lange says the policy remains after complaints of people pushing their own political barrows in past parades. Madame Lash, who plans to form the Extra Dimension Party, is for a republic and against foreign ownership. She wants policies that give youth confidence and get them off the dole. She also wants marijuana use and public graffiti legalised. "I'm out there saying to youth: 'Who do you want to look like when you are 50? Me or the others you can vote for?'"
She claims she already has the Prime Minister worried. When she tried to give him a Madame Lash doll in Canberra bofore the TV cameras recently "he beat a retreat from me" she said. The Rev Fred Nile and his Call to Australia Party are so concerned about her - despite her appearance as humble Gretel Pinniger on ballot papers - that they have put her last on their Senate how-to-vote card.